WASHINGTON - The NAACP is expressing its disappointment today in CNN for their newly announced prime time news lineup, which continues a multi-network trend, excluding African Americans from prime time slots as anchors and hosts.
In a statement, NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said, “As CNN announced their new schedule, a glaring omission was present – no African Americans were hosts or anchors in their prime time lineup.” Jealous added, “The NAACP is deeply concerned with the lack of African American journalists in prime time news, both on cable and national network news shows. In the spirit of award-winning African American journalists, from W.E.B. Dubois to Ed Bradley, the NAACP feels it is critical to bring this disparity, and the broader trend reflected in the overall lack of people of color as prime time news anchors, to the attention of the top officials at all of the major broadcast and cable news stations.”
Currently, there are no African American hosts or anchors on any national news show, cable or broadcast network, from the hours of 5PM-11PM.
The NAACP is especially troubled because it feels prime time slots are among the most influential in daily news. Prime time hosts in cable often have the most latitude to express their opinions, and evening news anchors are traditionally seen as the most credible voices in weekday news broadcasts. CNN, Bloomberg News, CNBC, FOX News and MSNBC have shows scheduled every hour to discuss world news, financial news and political news, and occasionally have African American commentators, but not one show in prime time is headlined or anchored by an African American.
“The NAACP Hollywood Bureau will be setting up meetings with the presidents of the news divisions to address this issue,” stated NAACP Hollywood Bureau Executive Director Vic Bulluck. “Throughout the morning hours and during daytime programming, African American journalists such as Robin Roberts, Al Roker, Roland Martin and Tamron Hall have anchor and commentator chairs; however, no African American occupies that space in the prime time evening news cycle. With all of the respected, major talent that is available, we find it perplexing that these talented journalists are not elevated to prime time and we intend to raise that concern in our meetings.”
Jealous added, “We have come to expect this from the likes of Fox News, but not other networks. While we understand that news is now a 24-hour cycle, most Americans get their news from the morning and evening prime time broadcasts. We recognize and appreciate that MSNBC often has guest hosts like the Reverend Al Sharpton, and CNN, CBS and NBC have weekend anchors like TJ Holmes, Don Lemon, Russ Mitchell and Lester Holt. Nonetheless, we encourage all networks to acknowledge the talent that exists and to increase the diversity among their prime time anchors and hosts.”